Lessons learned on our highways


We recently traveled to the North Carolina Outer Banks. It had been several years since we had made the 1,650-mile trek across three states, and three observations struck us: Potholes, traffic load and gasoline prices.

Ohio scored highest on pothole creation and preservation. It was pothole dodge ‘em all the way to Ironton. Other roadways were not as bad, but they still thumped the wheels sometimes. Only one stretch of 50 miles in North Carolina provided new, smooth, quiet blacktop resurfacing. Fifty miles of first-class roadway out of 1,650?

Next was the traffic load. The West Virginia turnpike carried the heaviest traffic I have ever experienced in the 50 years I have been driving it. It was a continuous snake around the constant curves in all four lanes. From Princeton to Wytheville and on to Fancy Gap traffic was heavier, lanes full and 20 mph rush hour-style traffic flow in several places.

Over the 100-mile stretch from Winston-Salem to Raleigh it was a NASCAR race, four or five lanes on each side zooming along at 80 mph. The stress of maintaining a safe distance from the guy in front, watching out for lane changers and praying nobody suffered a blowout or decided to share fender paint built tension in my back. It was high drama and high stress.

From Norfolk to Charlottesville coming back, there were many places of stop-and-go, bumper-to-bumper traffic.

In five years, what will the situation be if there is increased traffic — only stay-home vacations?

All along the roadways posted gas prices were $1.989 to $2.39, mostly in the $2.10 to $2.20 range. Fuel costs are low, but time and tension costs are high. There should be some lesson to be gleaned by connecting the dots. Maybe if highway users want common good services like good highways, they should expect to pay for them. Maybe we are not Taxed Enough Already. Look ahead Mr. Rosenberger, Mr. Peterson and Mr. Stivers.

Don Chafin

Wilmington